Imran Khan held a celebratory media address on Thursday, hours before the scheduled (and much-delayed) announcement regarding the Pakistan election result. As per unofficial polls, the former Cricketer's PTI party has a healthy lead in the vote-counting and is all but certain to emerge as the biggest party in the country. It is also, at the time of publishing, inching closer and closer to the majority mark. All of this means that the address served as Imran Khan's inaugural (though unofficial) speech as Prime Minister, where he laid down the marker for how his government would be different, and painstakingly attempted a spin on Pakistan's current foreign policy, to which he devoted almost half his time.
Here's a look at what he said, and in the relevant cases, his omissions:
Imran Khan began his speech by making a number of references to the terrorist attacks that attempted to impede the smooth conduct of the elections in Pakistan. While his references were accurate, that was the only mention of terrorism in his entire 30-minute-long address. There was not a single mention of cross-border terrorism for which Pakistan has been pulled up globally.
Imran Khan said on a number of occasions that he would head a government that would do (or wouldn't do) a number of things in Pakistan for the first time. These include:
"No matter who breaks the law, we'll take action. We will make such strong institutions that they'll stop corruption. Accountability will begin with me. Corruption is a cancer for Pakistan. There's one law", he said, weeks after his immediate democratically-elected predecessor was jailed in a suspiciously timed set of events.
"We will run Pakistan like it's never been run before"
"A country isn't recognised by how their rich people live, but by how their poor live", said Imran Khan, failing to mention that third criteria which applies to Pakistan -- how mass-murdering terrorists like Hafiz Saeed live, which is freely and brazenly so.
Without so much as a passing mention of Pakistan's hulking military-intelligence complex, Imran Khan trained his guns on his fellow politicians' abuse of power and government property. He said he would turn down the chance to live in the official Prime Ministerial residence and will instead have it turned into an educational institution. He said the same of Governors' houses and the hill-station rest-houses that Nawaz Sharif so favoured.
"Why will people pay tax? The way the government loots and abuses their money. I won't take PM's mahal. We will turn it into an educational institute."
Highlighting an issue that cannot be understated or undermined, however, he quoted statistics relating to Pakistan's child education, deaths during childbirth, and water-borne diseases, committing to dedicating government resources on improving human development factors.
"All our money will go towards human development."
Imran Khan's solution for the economic problems plaguing Pakistan again lacked specific mention of the word 'terrorism' though he did make points about 'stability'.
He said that till there isn't stability and till the systems of governance don't improve, there won't be any investment.
"How will we address unemployment if there's no investment?"
On addressing Pakistan's fiscal deficit, he said that overtures would be made to Pakistanis abroad. He did concede, however, that corruption would have to be tackled as it's a deterrent to investment in Pakistan.
Imran Khan raised how the same allegations had been made in 2013, but how this election was the cleanest in Pakistan's history:
"400 petitions had gone to the EC in 2013. I said open 4 so we can have different elections in 2018. Today they want us to open. We'll investigate. I believe this has been the cleanest Pakistan elections. Those who allege rigging, we're prepared to investigate with you."
In a fleeting reference which was, nevertheless, in consonance with his politics and in utter contrast to his spiel about the law being one, Imran Khan praised Shariah law and committed to bringing Pakistan under its principles.
Heaving a massive sigh, Imran Khan conceded that "Foreign policy is a big challenge" and that Pakistan needs peace and stability.
China: The first 'neighbour' to qualify for Imran Khan is one with which Pakistan only unofficially shares a border -- China. Understandably, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) found mention almost immediately as a means to leverage investment.
"Will send a team to China to learn how to alleviate poverty", Imran Khan said, adding that there is also one more thing Pakistan can learn from its 'neighbour' -- Corruption (and after taking a long and untimely pause) -- how to handle it. He specifically cited China sending top government officials and ministers to jail for corruption.
Afghanistan: Even Imran Khan probably knew he was bowling no-ball after no-ball when talking about Pakistan's western neighbour. He said that it was Pakistan that most wanted peace in Afghanistan, this despite terrorism's outflow from Pakistan's soil to Afghanistan being well documented even without considering that Pakistan secretly harboured Osama Bin-Laden for years.
"If Afghanistan has peace, Pakistan will have peace", he said, though he may just as well have offered, 'If the egg comes first, the chicken comes second'.
"We want a relationship with Afghanistan where we have open borders like in the EU", he added, not feeling it important to clarify explicitly, though he should have, that this wouldn't mean a free-for-all for terrorists.
The USA: It is perhaps a sign of how hard the US under Obama and Trump has been on Pakistan that Imran Khan's only reference to his country's once-be-all-end-all was made almost tangentially.
"As US is involved in Afghanistan, we wish to have a relationship with the US which is mutually beneficial", going on, bizarrely, about how the relationship had previously been skewed in the US' favour as they had given aid in exchange for Pakistan fighting its wars. Imran Khan described the entire affair as a 'one-way-street' as though refusing US dollars for such purposes was not an option.
"We want a balanced relationship", he said about the country that only recently blocked Pakistani diplomats from travelling freely on its (US) soil.
Iran: Perhaps the best way to have a relationship with US is not by saying immediately after that "We want to be friends with Iran". But that's what Imran Khan did. He also added Saudi Arabia to the mix, saying that the nation had stood with Pakistan in all its difficulties. It is here that Imran Khan made his most outrageous claim:
'We want to play a conciliatory role in the Middle East. We want to be a country that helps ending conflict rather than one that triggers it', Imran Khan said, at least acknowledging that Pakistan triggers conflict.
India: While he only raised India after mentioning at least five other countries, Imran Khan didn't fail to eventually come to the point and thereby lend credence to the widespread belief that he would be a puppet of the Pakistani Army and the ISI
He first said he was disappointed by how the Indian media had portrayed him, as though he was a Bollywood villain, and said that he knows the country well and has travelled there because of Cricket.
He then said that the two countries' first priority should be to deepen trade ties for mutual benefit.
Then, however, he came to Kashmir:
"Unfortunately, the biggest core issue between us is Kashmir", said Imran Khan, with his next statement perhaps comprising the single-most simplistically pathetic approximation of the situation in the Valley: "Any army going to a civilian area leads to human rights abuse."
Without a mention of the terrorism that he is now expected to clamp-down on, Khan continued in the same vein, as though the places were exchanged and India were Pakistan and Pakistan, India:
"We should attempt to resolve this. If we continue the blame-game and assume 'Pakistan does this' and what happens in Balochistan happens due to India, we won't get anywhere. Let's take the first step."
At last, he acknowledged the truth, though not the substance behind it: "So far it's been a one-sided relationship: anywhere there's trouble, Pakistan is blamed."
He concluded: It's important for the subcontinent that we have peace and that we resolve the issue through talks.